Curtis Gerry drives through a turn at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. during the PASS 150 race last month. Submitted photo

OXFORD — Curtis Gerry has been so good, so dominant at Oxford Plains Speedway over the last couple of years, that it’s easy to forget that there was a time the Waterboro driver wasn’t all that competitive in Maine’s Super Late Model ranks.

“I have all of my trophies downstairs, and I’ll go down and take a look at them from time to time,” Gerry said last weekend ahead of the track’s season opener. “I shake my head sometimes at the success we’ve had in the last four years. I don’t take it for granted, for sure.”

The last four years haven’t just been good for the 48-year-old. They’ve been dream seasons. He won a pair of track championships at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, in 2016 and 2018, and in between those two titles he finished runner-up in the track’s championship chase while winning the Oxford 250 that summer.

Last season, he moved over to compete weekly at Oxford Plains, winning the championship in his first-ever full season at the historic short track.

To put things in perspective, in the 12 years prior to his breakout 2016 campaign, Gerry had made 56 career Pro All Stars Series starts with 55 finishes of seventh or worse.

His best career finish prior to 2016 was a sixth-place run at Oxford in the 2013 season finale.

“We learned a lot in those years struggling,” said Gerry, who finished third in last weekend’s Oxford Championship Series opener. “We always worked with sub-par, older stuff. That forces you to make up for the car by doing your research and chassis adjustments. Then we got this car in 2016, then — BAM! — everything just happened. It all came into play. All that stuff we’d learned and worked with made this thing like a thoroughbred.”

Gerry’s black No. 7G with the yellow lettering turns heads every time it rolls through a pit area. He was the fastest in two of three practice sessions and easily won his qualifying race to start on the pole for the Coastal Auto Parts 150 before mechanical issues ended his day early.  His smooth, easy approach behind the wheel is the perfect fit for his Distance Racing chassis — and he said he spends just a few hours each week on setups in his garage, preferring instead to rely on what Distance owner Jeff Taylor puts into his ride each week.

For the first time, Gerry has two cars at his disposal this season. His favorite car is still the one he competes with at Oxford each week, and the second car will be used for races elsewhere this season.

He was worried, like most in the sport, that he’d never get a chance to show off either this summer.

“I’m a live and die race fan. It was tough,” Gerry said of the three-month delay to the start of Maine’s short track season. “We look forward to it all winter and then we had to sit in the house all cooped up with nothing to do. It was driving us crazy. It began to look like it was never going to happen — or if it did, it was going to be really late in the fall.”

With a shortened season to chase a second straight championship at Oxford, Gerry said he doesn’t plan to change much in 2020. He still lives by the old racing adage that to finish first you must first finish.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s 13 or 14 races or just six — you’ve still got to finish the races and do the best you can every time,” he said. “The same effort goes into it. You still go out and do the best you can whether it’s a half dozen races or 24 of them.”

The season continues Saturday night with the second race of the Oxford Championship Series season. As was the case on opening weekend, fans will still not be allowed to attend.

And whether he likes it or not (spoiler alert: he most certainly does not like it), all eyes will be on Gerry. He’s become the favorite for any Super Late Model race at Oxford, be it in weekly competition, a PASS race or the Oxford 250. He’s someone for fans to keep an eye on, and he’s the measuring stick for the competition.

It’s a role he’s still getting used to. But just like the 2020 season in Maine, he doesn’t take any of it for granted.

“I don’t like the limelight. Someone asks how I did, I’ll say, ‘Oh, I did really good.’ I don’t like to brag. I don’t like to gloat at all,” Gerry said. “We have high expectations here. We want to come out and win, just like all the other cars here. I know that’s a high expectation, but you have to have those.”

Notes: Beech Ridge Motor Speedway announced Tuesday that it will hold a seven-race “open competition” season, beginning July 18. The track will hold races in its Pro Series, Sport Series and Wildcat divisions, along with its Thursday Thunder divisions, with open rules to encourage outside participation. There will not be a championship awarded. … Speedway 95 in Hermon opens this week, two weeks of Wednesday night racing before Saturday nights start July 11. Fans will not be permitted to attend.

Travis Barrett — 207-621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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